Local Government Hanceville council tables pay raises, IT maintenance contract | CullmanSense

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Hanceville council tables pay raises, IT maintenance contract

The Hanceville Police Explorers received a $400 check from Karen Cook (center) of Cook Ministries. / W.C. Mann

HANCEVILLE - The budget was centerstage at Thursday night’s Hanceville City Council meeting. A security and maintenance contract for city computers, a renegotiation of the city’s water contract with Blountsville, as well as raises and benefits for the mayor and council members themselves were among the topics discussed.

Mayor and council compensation

The council and Mayor Kenneth Nail discussed at length the prospect of raises for their own positions under a modified version of City Ordinance No. 616, emphasizing that they were not talking about giving themselves raises.  Under the law, any raise approved by the council and mayor would not go into effect until after the next election.  Only those who run and are re-elected would benefit from such a raise.

According to Ordinance 616, the mayor receives an annual salary of $31,000, and council members are paid $350 per month.

Nail said, “I’m going to tell y’all, I do think some of this needs to be redone.  I’ve got no issues with that.  And I think that the last time the mayor and council got a raise was at least 15 years ago, probably, at least.  I know it’s been the same since I’ve been here, and I think the council’s pay should be raised some.  And I do think, I’m not talking about a whole lot, but the mayor’s salary would be adjusted some.”

Nail took exception to a recent change in wording in the third section of the ordinance, which provides the mayor with a city automobile.  To that provision had been added the phrase “for city business.”

Nail stated emphatically, “The mayor is just like the police chief; we’ve talked to the ethics commission about this; the police chief and the fire chief, we’re on call 24/7 if there’s an issue.  I do not, along with the fire chief, along with the police chief, drive our cars on vacation.  We don’t do that; we’ve never done that, to my knowledge. 

“But I’m going to tell you, even if you put this in here, it’s not going to change with me, because I’m going to continue to do what I’ve always done, if I’m mayor four years from now.  So I just want to get that out there to start with.  If I need to go by Warehouse Grocery store, I’m not going to go home and get my personal vehicle to come back and go to Warehouse Groceries.”

City Attorney Dan Willingham affirmed the mayor’s position on that matter, noting that both the state ethics commission and the state attorney general have issued opinions allowing for what are known as “incidental” vehicle uses, such as stopping by a store on one’s way home from work.

Nail further argued that the ordinance allows mayors the same benefits as full-time city employees, and noted that he has never received certain benefits.

In the end, the mayor and council decided that more time was needed to work out the details of the ordinance, and the matter was tabled until the next meeting.

Computer system maintenance

Smart Fox Solutions, a Decatur-based information technology company, presented the council a proposed contract for maintenance and security services that would include remote monitoring of systems, immediate removal of malware and other dangerous programs, setup and maintenance of computers, and other tasks.  The contract would cover computers in Hanceville City Hall as well as the police and fire departments, and would cost $875 per month with an initial $400 set-up fee.  As a question existed about the number of city computers, representatives offered to add coverage to any computer not listed in the initial proposal for $25 per month, per unit.

Not knowing the exact number of computers, and not wishing to take on such a contract until the start of the new budget year on Oct. 1, the council voted to table the matter for now.

City water contract

Councilman Charles Wilson reported that the city’s water department had renegotiated its contract with the City of Blountsville for three more years, at a rate of $1.85 per 1,000 gallons of water ready to drink.  This represents a 20-cent increase of the previous rate of $1.65 per 1,000 gallons, but according to Wilson stays well below the cost of purchasing water from the Cullman Utilities Board.

Other council business

The council recognized Karen Cook of Cook Ministries, who came forward to present the Hanceville Police Explorers a check for $400.  The money was given in memory of Cook’s brother Johnny Cook, and his son Jake Cook.  The donation was not earmarked; the Explorer post will use the money for any project or expense they wish.

Lucille Powell brought a request to the council and all present, to donate plastic shopping bags to the Hanceville Senior Center to be woven into sleeping mats for the homeless.  Nail agreed to gather bags at city hall and deliver them to the center.

Nail announced that, with a recent $12,000 Cullman County Community Development Commission grant, Hanceville is set to resume work on the sidewalks connecting the downtown to Wallace State.

The Mud Creek Marching Band Festival is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14, and the Mud Creek Arts and Crafts Show will follow on Oct. 21. Nail announced that the show will include a contest for members of the area’s various rock hunting groups to present their painted rocks.

The Hanceville City Council meets on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month at 6:30 p.m. in Hanceville City Hall, with a work session at 6 p.m.  The public is invited to attend.

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